GaLTT launches new program to help Gabriolans conserve more natural habitat on their properties

Gabriola Land and Trails Trust

Press Release

Wednesday, April 21 2021

This Earth Day April 22, Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) will launch its new Nature Stewards Program. GaLTT President Rob Brockley described the program as inspirational, voluntary, and full of opportunities for community collaboration.

“We’re starting an ongoing challenge for private landholders to conserve as much of their properties in a natural/nature friendly state as possible,” he said. “We all know this decade is pivotal for so many global issues, and our local efforts will feed into the huge international movement to protect 30% of the planet by 2030.”

“As we’ve seen more development and wholesale clearing of lots intensifying, we recognize that two big missing pieces are raising more community awareness and finding practical ways to help people make more ecologically sensitive decisions on their private properties”, he said. 

“All of us moved here because we were drawn by community, lifestyle, and the island’s stunning natural beauty. But since two-thirds of the island is privately owned and only a little over 10% is protected as parkland, it will be the land-use decisions we make on our private properties that will be the crucial difference between a healthy island ecosystem and one that is fragmented and impoverished.”

Program Coordinator Ken Gurr said trained volunteer Nature Stewards will help property owners by doing walkabouts on their land to suggest ways to create wildlife habitat and conserve and enhance biodiversity. “From large lots to less than half-acre parcels, we want to acknowledge everyone for their efforts and be here to help. Many landholders are already champions of nature conservation on their land. Those properties benefit our island’s ecology tremendously and that needs to be recognized as well”, he said.

Gurr said that as word spread that GaLTT was planning this program, many local businesses like realtors, landscapers, and garden centres have come forward with offers to help promote and support the program. 

GaLTT has committed $10K of its own funds to launch Nature Stewards in 2021 and is firming up remaining funding for resources like mapping, handouts for landowners, volunteer team support and workshops, so that outreach work goes into full swing later in 2021. The Islands Trust Conservancy is a funding-partner and GaLTT will be applying for an RDN Community Grant this month.

Gurr encouraged everyone to look at the program website, galtt-naturestewards.com for more information and a list of links to free-online resources. “This Earth Day, if islanders can have a fresh look around their properties and discover all the easy ways each of us can help nature a little bit more, we are well underway to our decade long goal”, he said. 

“Individual efforts are crucial—it could be planting more shrubs or flowers, letting a portion of your yard go a bit wilder, or adding a bird bath. When we all do this, we make a natural patchwork of habitat connecting with our neighbour’s land and linking up with the protected parks and natural areas across the island.” To assist, we’re distributing the brochure in this week’s Sounder, and GaLTT has a Native Plant Depot at the Commons (west entrance), where people can donate or take a variety of species for native plant gardening projects. 

Coming up right away for GaLTT Nature Stewards actions is an invasive plant species pickup day on Earth Day. Or you can drop off your culled invasives on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, April 22-25. For more details, please e-mail invasives@galtt.ca